Jan 032015
 

Different forms of Government Propaganda began and ended the year. We saw delays, backlogs, more cuts, more campaigns and direct actions. We reproduce some of the DPAC actions, research and call outs from 2014. Highlights included the Westminster Abbey Occupation against the closure of ILF as part of the #saveilf campaign, lowlights included the court case that arrived at the decision that Penning had taken appropriate process into account by saying that ILF users could be entitled to less under local authorities. Chaos with the DWP, PIP, ESA was compounded by misinformation, dodgy stats , backlogs and increasing sanctions. The brilliant Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts achieved the abolition of ‘care’ charges by their local authority-proving it can be done. Esther McVey was awarded Scrooge of the year. DPAC was threatened with legal action for our support of the Anthony Kletzander campaign -in response we increased the campaign, and the relationship in the propaganda against disabled people between the DWP and the Mail was finally exposed

News that the UNCRPD Committee had initiated its first ever inquiry into grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention against the UK identified how far our disability rights and independent living had been eroded by the Coalition-although the Mail didnt seem to like it much

Our constant court cases against the DWP continued, and we have more lined up for this year too- yes, we could be talking to you Motability!

We look forward to 2015 and a change in the regime that has seen the poor grow poorer, while the richest grew richer. A year in which we launch Who2vote4? and the DPAC revenge tour. We will continue to fight for #saveilf with an event on 6th Jan at the House of Commons and an online twitter event.

For an excellent review of the fight against cuts from 2010-2014 please download From Cuts to Resistance and if you want a count down to the election , then the DPAC downloadable calender can help

Here’s to a better year in 2015 with thanks to all our members and supporters. Keep up with news in 2015 by subscribing to posts through our website www.dpac.uk.net or follow us on twitter @Dis_ppl_protest

Some selected actions of DPAC in 2014

January saw the posting of a call for those who were waiting for PIP due to backlogs. This post has received over 40,000 views,shares and many comments. The situation has now been described as a backlog that , at the current rate , could take 42 years to clear. For those claiming ‘reforms’ are working have a look to see that they are not: https://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/have-you-waited-months-for-a-pip-assessment/ and let’s not forget the backlog in ESA either-in short complete chaos for disabled people.

In ‘Austerity Street: the real impacts’ we reproduced some of the stories we had received from those left without cash and homes via sanctions, delays and backlogs. This was in response to Love Production’s poverty porn , Benefits Street, part of the media’s continued demonization regime -the campaign incorporated a twitter fest against the format of biased programming. We supported our partners in Canada Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) and Ontario Coalition Aginst Poverty (OCAP). In an international campaign against increasing homelessness. Austerity is global. We supported Boycott workfare against CAPITA cashing in on poverty.

Through the excellent work of Nick Dilworth we exposed more BBC media double dealing and the fact that they weren’t publicizing the 88% success rates of those claiming ESA and asked ‘Are the DWP failing apart at every level? When a freedom of information response incorrectly claimed that PIP was subjected to sanctions. In another they claimed that the cap would be cut for those without children, both were incorrect. With Inclusion London we campaigned against the Care Act’s exclusion of ‘independent living’ and DPAC also  joined Hands off London Transport against ticket office closures, as well as regional Rail protests

February We joined  the many direct actions against the removal of legal aid. Raquel Rolnik ‘s report on the bedroom tax is published and recommends immediate suspension of the bedroom tax. The Government’s response is to accuse her of giving sacrifices to Marx and telling her to ‘sort out her own country’. We republish the excellent ‘Why the rise of UKIP is dangerous for disabled people’ and receive the usual abuse from Kippers proving the point. DPAC, Black Triangle and Wow publish a joint statement on Atos exit strategy , calling again for an end to the WCA. We expose how 9 out of 10 sanctions are dismissed when challenged

March More direct actions against proposed cuts in legal aid for judicial review.We publish ‘Punching Holes in Austerity’ an insightful analysis of DPAC and direct actions. DPAC supports #stopchanges2A2W against punitive changes in Access to Work. We publish an update on Anthony Kletzander and questions for HSE in Ireland with ENIL , a story of human rights abuse in Dublin, Ireland, a stand that we would later find invoked a threat of legal action against one of our co-founders.

DPAC joins protests against DWP and ATOS country wide. Protests that were reminiscent of the very first DPAC protests against Atos carried out by DPAC from 2011 onwards, culminating in the 2012 DPAC Atos games that saw Atos tarnished forever. DPAC leads direct actions and online protests against the despised disability Con-fident, leading to the highest number of tweets and retweets ever, exposing the scheme as no more than a Government gloss while they were cutting access to work and removing the means for disabled people to work. We produce a critical analysis of Pennings impact assessment regarding ILF. We reproduce the piece by John Pring asking ‘Where was your MP during the Wow Debate’

April The brilliant Ellen Clifford travels to Canada to embark on a successful speaking tour with raise the rates. We hold a well attended DPAC Grassroots Fightback conference. DPAC, Inclusion London, Equal Lives and the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People promote the #saveilf postcard campaignTop Corrie stars support the postcard campaign to #saveilf.  DPAC supports Lifeworks and protests against cuts to mental health support. DPAC gives its response to Labour on reform of WCA

 May DPAC releases its research documents for download. DPAC and ILF users block the DWP in protest. We learn that disabled students allowances are now under threat of cuts. DPAC publishes a powerful piece by one of our readers that sums up many peoples’ feelings: ‘I’ll never forgive or forget what this Government has done to me and thousands of others‘. We pay homage to the strength of Quiet Riot, celebrate the #dpactour and the success of the Freedom Riders.

June The Independent Living Fund’s Birthday protest happens in June with lots of action outside the DWP. We see JSA benefit sanctions sky rocket under the coalition Government. More actions happen to fight the bedroom tax.

We publish a piece by Angela 28 on how ‘care’ support has been threatened and why that threatens independent living and rights– legal representation was found for many people, but we were aware that this was happening to many more people through emails to dpac mail. Unlike some organisations we attempt to challenge these instances and reject the rhetoric that there is more ‘choice and control’ for disabled people.

At the end of June DPAC with UKUNCUT, and Occupy carry out a daring occupation of Westminster Abbey , after months of planning to highlight the #saveilf campaign. There were 3 police to every protester , and while we had no support from the dear old church , messages of support and publicity poured in

 July We publish a joint statement in response to the Work and Pensions Committee on the WCA from DPAC, Black Triangle, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Pats petition, Wow and New Approach in which we again say the WCA should be scrapped.

An ILF user makes a plea to Disability Rights UK (DRUK) on ILF after he was denied the right to speak at their independent living conference. DRUK did not feel the need to offer any response.  In Disability Rights UK : independent Living or new visions in Neo-Liberalism we ask why the DRUK ‘independent living ‘ conference was sponsored by an organisation running institutions, segregated schooling and ‘hospitals for those with mental health issues. We also launched a highly successful twitter campaign asking the same questions, again DRUK did not feel they owed disabled people any response to this outrage.

DPAC highlights more chaos at the DWP on appeals and sanctions. John McDonnell launches an Early Day Motion to #saveilf. Positive updates and actions on the WCA court case regarding mental health claimants by the Mental Health Resistance Network. We ask that people write to IDS to raise issues happening regarding mental health.

August Rethink calls people with mental health issues a ‘disease burden’ Mental Health Resistance Network respond to the outrage. We call for a stop to discrimination for those transferring from DLA to PIP who do not get backdated paymentsDPAC continues to support anti-fracking protests with Reclaim the power.

We republish the excellent Nick Dilworth’s piece on how the media are ignoring what’s happening to disabled people https://dpac.uk.net/2014/08/a-national-scandal-4-million-people-face-chaos-in-this-country-and-are-ignored-by-the-media/

ILF user John Kelly speaks to BBC on the impacts of the potential loss of ILF. We ask what happens when ILF funds are not ring fenced to local authorities

September sees a national day of Protest against sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit caps.

The fantastic Brian Hilton produces a set of pics for party conference season on #saveilf. DPAC crash the Tory Party Conference via a successful tweet attack and in person. We do the same to Labour.

We publish The Great Farago: UKIP sleight of hand and receive more abuse from Kippers, Richard Howitt Labour MEP quotes the piece and receives even more abuse.

New short film launched with the Daily Mirror on ILF.

The first inkling that the DWP are wrongly asking those in the ESA support group to attend work focused interviews comes to our notice.

DPAC is threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander and publicising the abuse of his human rights in Ireland, our response is to publish an interview with Anthony’s parents  on the injustice Anthony and his family have endured.

October We reblog the excellent Johnny Void piece on the boss of Maximus https://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/meet-richard-a-montoni-the-five-million-dollar-maximus-boss-here-to-fleece-the-uks-benefits-system/.

We publish an open letter to Freud who declared that disabled people can work for less than minimum wage. DPAC and Occupy pay another visit to the DWP Caxton House building for ‘Freud must go!’ protest

In Secrets and Lies :maximus the new leader of the inhumans we ask why Disability Rights UK have agreed to a) be part of the Maximus testing process on the WCA and b) why they’ve teamed up with Unum and other insurance companies to develop a TV program showing how much better off disabled people will be if they take out private insurance- with user-led disability organisations like these we dont need enemies.

ILF users return to court to challenge the DWP on ILF. A successful #saveilf vigil happens with road blocks, many messages of support and some great pics.

Welfare assistance fund is next under threat of closure. Campaign to save it is launched.

November The Final Litchfield Review shows that the WCA should be scrapped.

One of our favourite reports of the year : IDS is chased around a building to drown out shouts of murderer at Ipswich- congratulations to the local dpac group for that one!

We ask people to come forward to launch a legal challenge on cuts to the disabled student allowance

£86 million goes missing from Pudsley’s children in need account BBC to blame for mislaying -complainants are actually advised to write to Pudsley via his BBC email

DWP increase attacks on disabled benefit recipients with claims they can harress them off benefits. We put out an urgent call-out https://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/urgent-people-awaiting-wca-assessments-particularly-in-birmingham-please-read/

Work Providers A4E are exposed again in relation to ESA and workfare. The Rev Paul Nicolson wins in court against council tax. Class War’s continuing protests against ‘poor doors’ get to the authorities who make arrests- and Boris is burnt. Meanwhile DPAC discovers Motability’s sneaky backdoor changes to individuals needing to be in work to qualify for support https://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/motability-and-the-deserving-and-undeserving-charity-not-rights/

December ILF users lose court case on ILF but its not over.

DPAC launches an Open letter to Ed, Kate and Rachel on ILF– we’re still waiting for a response

Hammersmith and Fulham abolish home ‘care’ charges, showing it can be done. Congratulations for a great campaign to the excellent Kevin Caulfield and Debbie Domb and all at Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts

Esther McVey is named scrooge of the year, which we though was a little too kind to the creature

Unsurprisingly the Work and Pensions report slammed the Government ‘mismanagament of Access to Work – the stop the changes to Access to Work campaign continues.

Questions are asked on the Government costs in fighting against disabled peoples’equality

The link between the DWP and the Mail propaganda is finally nailed and exposed as the DWP is caught out https://dpac.uk.net/2014/12/dwp-caught-giving-disability-propaganda-to-daily-mail/

Nov 242011
 

As you may know Motability have announced this week that anyone insured as another driver for a Motability vehicle must live within 5 miles of the disabled driver/owner of that vehicle.

This followed on very quickly from the odious article produced by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail.

Many people who have Motability cars have family and PAs who live further than 5 miles away and we are asking everyone, even if you aren’t affected by this change to write and complain to Motability about how it will make life even more difficult for disabled people and their families. It will particularly affect anyone living in rural areas where public transport is very poor anyhow.

Some examples of what disabled people have said about these changes are

“my daughter’s PAs are 3,4,6 and 9 miles away and we looked long and hard to find appropriate people that close”

“Both my PAs will be affected as they live 6 and eight miles away, as will my family and friends who drive me from time to time. RSA indicated that this new 5 mile ruling was adversely affecting many people. “

Royal Sun Alliance who have a dedicated phone line to answer the insurance elements of the change the Motability Regulations strongly urge people to write to Motability to complain, at the following address:

Motability Operations
Crossgate House
Sothwark Bridge Road
London SE19HB

Download a template letter you can use here: Motability template letter

Jun 232011
 
Steven Sumpter

Steven Sumpter

DPAC is happy that Steven Sumpter did us  an expanded version of a post that originally appeared on his own blog.

Last Sunday the Sunday Times ran a front page story under the headline “State hands out BMWs to ‘disabled’”. It was factually incorrect in both the headline and in several points made in the article. Although the headline attacked the very concept of people that receive disability benefits daring to own a high end car, the bulk of the story went on to talk about relatives and carers using the cars without the disabled person present. The same story appeared in numerous national and local newspapers. The story in most of the local papers was actually word-for-word the same – just google “Flash cars leased to disabled people” to find many examples of it.

I don’t think I can put this any more simply: the government does not hand out cars to disabled people.  What actually happens is that the most severely affected sick or disabled people can claim Disability Living Allowance, which includes a mobility component. Those people receive money to spend as they choose, perhaps to buy a wheelchair or to go towards taxi fares.  Many choose to sign over all of the mobility part of their DLA to the Motability scheme, a scheme which is not government run, and in return for their money they receive a car, a wheelchair or a scooter. They can also choose to pay an extra fee to upgrade to one of the more expensive cars available through the scheme. In the case of a BMW, that would be at least an extra one thousand four hundred pounds, paid upfront, out of the customers own pocket. A Motability car can be used by another person on behalf of the sick or disabled person without them being present, for example going shopping for them, or perhaps transporting an item across town for them. If a Motability car is used by someone else for their own purposes, that is a breach of the rules of the Motability Scheme and potentially raises issues because the car is exempt from vehicle tax and was not subject to VAT. Such use does not involve benefit fraud since the DLA would have been paid to the sick or disabled person, whether they had a car or not. Relatives or carers getting a so called “free car” and using it for their own purposes are doing so at the expense of the sick or disabled person, not through benefit fraud.

These stories about relatives getting “free cars” and about people receiving BMWs through Motability are worrying because they seem to originate from the government. The Sunday Times article does not mention it, but the story that was duplicated in lots of local papers quotes “a Whitehall source” who would seem to be the only reason that this is a story at all. The quotes from this source are anecdotal in nature, with lines such as “my neighbours have got this car and it’s for their granny, but they ride in it” and the emphasis seems heavily weighted towards attacking the Motability scheme and smearing the reputation of those that use it.

This is not the first time that anonymous government sources have provided stories to newspapers sympathetic to government policies. (And only newspapers sympathetic to government policies.) In a previous attack, government ministers released a select list of the most outrageous excuses for benefit fraud Of course, the excuses were bizarre and most of these cases really were fraud, but no mention was made of the incredibly low rate of benefit fraud, below 1%, and how few cases such excuses represent. The papers also took the opportunity to belittle addiction and “bad backs” as disabilities, despite them often being crippling and life-destroying. The commonly quoted back pain, for example, can cover many problems such as degenerative spine conditions, botched surgery causing nerve damage, and curved spine.

At the start of the month another attack aimed at the rise in numbers claiming DLA and again belittling “back pain” as well as mental health and addiction, several mainstream newspapers quoted a “source close to the reforms.” We are not told who exactly this information came from, and yet it appeared in several newspapers at the same time. I have been unable to find a press release that correlates to this information, and so I must assume that the figures have been leaked to preferred newspapers by someone in government.

Then we have government ministers giving out inaccurate or just plain wrong statistics. Last month minister for the disabled Maria Miller announced on live television news that more people receive benefits for drug and alcohol addiction than for blindness. Actually, official figures show that 69,000 people receiving benefits list blindness as their primary condition, against 22,800 who list alcohol and drug addiction. Apart from the error, this is an example of a government minister distinguishing the deserving from the undeserving, something that David Cameron seems anxious to deny even while perpetuating the idea. Earlier this year employment minister Chris Grayling stated to the press that 75% of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance were found fit to work, however, that included 39% who withdrew their claim before it was complete for reasons unknown and 16% who were placed in the work related activity group to receive support towards eventually going back to work. Still, the Daily Mail enjoyed it.

Ian Duncan-Smith recently stated during an interview on Newsnight that people on benefits are “putting nothing back into the community” which if not an attack at least shows a disturbing lack of  knowledge about how such people live. Certainly in all the places that I have lived in many not in paid employment have put the most back into their communities through volunteering and caring. Even the opposition seems to be getting in on the act, with Ed Miliband talking about going after the “take what you can culture” and branding benefit claimants as lazy shirkers and cheats. Presumably this is seen as the way to attract votes and popularity these days.

A visitor to my blog suggested an explanation to the mysterious sources quoted in so many newspaper stories recently. He said:

“A Whitehall source” normally means Departmental special advisers (SPADS), party hacks who are paid out of public funds to work as political advisers in Government departments. As a relatively senior ex-Civil Servant I have no doubt that this campaign is being orchestrated by a combination of SPADS and Conservative Central Office with the tacit approval of Ministers. I’ve seen it before, although not a campaign as nasty and squalid as this.

This explanation does seem plausible, although I am not sure how anyone would go about proving it. Wherever they come from, these attacks add up to something very disturbing. The government is rushing through welfare reform with only an occasional speed bump when people raise specific issues – such as cancer patients that won’t have enough time to recover if their ESA is limited to just one year. It is worth noting that when Ed Miliband highlighted these 7,000 cancer patients, he didn’t mention the other 700,000 seriously sick or disabled people that will be affected by the same time limit rules.) The pace of savage cuts and reforms justified by rhetoric and propaganda is terrifying and seems to be taking us towards a society that no longer cares for those who are sick or disabled.